CHAPEL HILL, NORTH CAROLINA - NOVEMBER 04: Drake Maye #10 of the North Carolina Tar Heels looks on during the game against the Campbell Fighting Camels at Kenan Memorial Stadium on November 04, 2023 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The Tar Heels won 59-7. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
CHAPEL HILL, NORTH CAROLINA - NOVEMBER 04: Drake Maye #10 of the North Carolina Tar Heels looks on during the game against the Campbell Fighting Camels at Kenan Memorial Stadium on November 04, 2023 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The Tar Heels won 59-7. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

QB Drake Maye: Bottom-Tier NFL Starter

Reading Time: 3 minutes
CHAPEL HILL, NORTH CAROLINA – NOVEMBER 11: Jeremiah Lewis #39 of the Duke Blue Devils tackles Drake Maye #10 of the North Carolina Tar Heels during the game at Kenan Memorial Stadium on November 11, 2023 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The Tar Heels won 47-45 in double overtime. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

North Carolina’s Drake Maye fits the NFL’s timeline for a franchise quarterback (QB). He’s got the size, arm and he can run.

However, I am not as high on Maye as many are.

Being a dual-role who runs as physically as Maye does is a double-edged sword. It’s great he’s so competitive, but it also makes him a higher injury risk in the NFL.

That worries me.

Maye regressed in 2023

I’m now watching two seasons of game film on the top QB prospects and I’m leary of those who regress before the draft.

I’ve watched every snap Maye has taken in 2022 and 2023.

His completion percentage fell from 66.2% to 63.3%, his passing yardage dropped from 4,321 yards to 3,608 yards, his passing touchdowns went from 38 to 24, and his interceptions increased from seven to nine. I am not a ‘stats scout,’ but stats are pieces of the puzzle.

Maye’s ball placement in 2022 and 2023 was average (not good and not great).

“Half the games it looked more on-point than the other half. At times, it looks like he is pressing and aiming too much.” Those are the words I wrote in my 2022 game film review of Maye. This season, I wrote in my notes he struggled with placement against Virginia (50.0%, 1 INT, 2 sacks), NC State (57.9% 2 INT, 1 sack), Minnesota (72.5%, 2 INT, 2 sacks), South Carolina (70.0%, 2 INT, 0 sacks), and Clemson (44.4%, 1 INT, 4 sacks).

Maye looked ‘off’ in roughly half the games two seasons in a row (12/26 games). More concerning is the inward anger and frustration vibe he gave off this season, which I didn’t pick up on in 2022.

Granted, his PBUs (pass breakups) improved. I charted 27 PBUs in 14 games (1.93 avg.) in 2022, which dropped to 15 in 12 games (1.25 avg.). So, in terms of overall ball security, he improved. His ‘time to throw,’ looked generally faster this season, which is what I’m attributing that to. I don’t think his placement improved, if anything it got worse.

There were also moments of judgment lapse in 2023 when he threw airballs, dangerous passes, or held the ball too long.

Risky projection

I have to trust my gut on this one and my gut is strongly giving me pause.

He left me feeling too much doubt.

No question, Maye is talented. I wrote in 2022 he was ‘giving Tom Brady vibes.’ He has a dynamic ability to improvise.

Maye attacks secondaries, which I love. I charted 40 deep attempts in 2023 and he completed 23 (58%).

According to Pro Football Focus: Maye made 38 big-time throws for an 8.7% big-time throw rate last season and has 32 such throws this year at a 7.5% clip.

But, he’s not a slam-dunk top-10 prospect when contemplating what it takes to be an elite NFL QB.

#10 Drake Maye 6-foot-4, 230 pounds

Daniel Kelly’s 2024 NFL Draft Grade: First-Round (I would select him)

Ceiling: Bottom tier ranked starter (18-32)

Projected by 97.8% of the NFL Draft Community to be a first-round pick as of December 30, 2023 (nflmockdraftdatabase.com)

Drake Maye Giving Tom Brady Vibes (8 games evaluated in 2022)

QB Drake Maye Through the Eyes of a Former NFL Scout (6 games evaluated in 2022)

Game film reviewed (2023): South Carolina, Appalachian State, Minnesota, PITT, Syracuse, Miami, Virginia, Georgia Tech, Campbell, Duke, Clemson, and North Carolina State (click to view games watched to form this evaluation)

2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report

A plug-and-play dual-role pro-style prospect with average accuracy. Pro Day star. Hot and cold on film. Comfortable in the pocket. Polished technician. All business. Spring in his step. Quick, urgent tempo. Fancy ball handling. Downfield minded. Navigates the pocket well. Tough. Poised. Stares down the barrel of the pass rush and fires. Strong arm. Accurate rolling out in either direction. Spreads ball around. Hell-bent on being a perfectionist. Strong tendency to press his throws will hold him back. Inconsistent ball placement will be the main issue.

Final words

Maye will not see a second contract from the team that drafts him if he goes top 17.

Daniel Kelly is a former NFL Scout with the New York Jets. He was hired on the regime which featured Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Scott Pioli, Mike Tannenbaum, and Dick Haley. He is currently the Editor-in-Chief for First Round Mock, contributes at Yardbarker, and has written for Sports Illustrated Lions, Jets, and 49ers, as well as a featured guest on ESPN Radio and Fox Sports Radio. For more information about him visit his website at whateverittakesbook.com. He can be followed on Twitter @firstroundmock.

Featured Articles

Spencer Rattler Franchise NFL QB

Reading Time: 3 minutes Watch South Carolina QB Spencer Rattler in 10 games from 2023 embedded into this article.

Read More...

Joe Milton III: GO BIG OR GO HOME

Reading Time: 3 minutes Watch Tennessee Volunteers' QB Joe Milton III in 12 games from 2023 embedded into this article.

Read More...

Dawg Mentality: Michael Penix Jr., QB, Washington Huskies

Reading Time: 3 minutes Watch eight games of Washington Huskies QB MIchael Penix Jr. embedded into this article.

Read More...

Jayden Daniels Spends Birthday Serving Those in Need

Reading Time: 2 minutes First Round Mock's Victoria Jonach looks into how Jayden Daniels spent his birthday.

Read More...

Get to Know The Name Olumuyiwa Fashanu

Reading Time: 3 minutes Watch four games of Penn State offensive tackle Olu Fashanu embedded into this article.

Read More...

Bo Nix – the Ultimate Scholar Athlete

Reading Time: 3 minutes First Round Mock's Victoria Jonach looks into the details of Bo Nix's accomplishments and how they landed him a huge award.

Read More...

Iowa’s Cooper DeJean Transitioning to Safety in the NFL?

Reading Time: 3 minutes Watch Iowa defensive back Cooper DeJean in six games embedded into this article.

Read More...

Marvin Harrison Jr. Doesn’t Like To Go Out of His Way

Reading Time: 3 minutes Watch Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. in eight games embedded into this article.

Read More...

QB Drake Maye: Bottom-Tier NFL Starter

Reading Time: 3 minutes Watch North Carolina QB Drake Maye in 14 games embedded into this article.

Read More...

Shocking 2024 NFL Draft Board Released: Quarterbacks

Reading Time: 8 minutes Get the most comprehensive insights available on quarterbacks in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Read More...